Electric motorboat features a sleek Danish design

April 3, 2020 by  
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Copenhagen-based Rand Boats has earned an international reputation for developing modern, affordable motorboats that are designed to be respectful to nature. Now, the company has unveiled the Leisure 28, a sleek motorboat built out of recycled plastic that runs on an all-electric motor . For many people enjoying a bit of fun in the sun, putting up with the hostile sounds and polluting smoke generated by motorboats is just a regular inconvenience when it comes to spending time on the water. Whether small lakes or large seas, these whirring beasts have ruled the waterways for decades, often at the cost of clean water and air. Related: Cool retro boats restored with electric motors Now, boat manufacturers are looking for a better, more eco-friendly way of boating. For Danish company Rand Boats , this means building sleek, minimalist boats with all-electric systems. Already well-known for its sustainable boat designs, Rand Boats’ latest project, Leisure 28, is outfitted with an electric propulsion system that lets it run up to 45 mph for up to two hours. In addition to providing boaters with a more eco-friendly electric motor, Rand Boats also ensured the materials used to manufacture its boats are environmentally sound. In fact, in most of its boats, the company uses materials developed from recycled plastic and bio-based hybrids in order to minimize the environmental impact of its fleet of cruisers. Not only is the sustainable boat created to bring a little more peace to the waterways thanks to its quiet motor, but it can also become the ultimate party boat. Leisure 28 was crafted to accommodate up to 12 people who can enjoy a nice outdoor lunch on the built-in adjustable dining table. When not in use, the table can be folded into a relaxing, king-sized sundeck to sit back and soak up some rays. There is also a sufficient kitchen and bar area on the top deck as well as a small cabin with enough room for a queen-sized bed below deck. + Rand Boats Via Uncrate Images via Rand Boats

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Electric motorboat features a sleek Danish design

Experts warn against panic-buying chicks

April 3, 2020 by  
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In these toilet paper-hoarding times, people are doubting supply chains and worrying about food security. Chick purchases are on the rise in the midst of COVID-19, but this is not the time to start a backyard chicken farm, experts warn. “If you’re thinking of buying chicks, do your work ahead of time,” said Marisa Erasmus, an assistant professor of animal sciences at Purdue University. “Make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into. These animals are going to grow up and have very specific needs. They are reliant on us to provide for them and we have to be sure we can do that.” Related: Discarded face masks now threatening wildlife habitats For many consumers now, the thought of a fresh egg supply — without perilous grocery store trips fraught with worries of coronavirus transmission — is alluring. But chicks aren’t machines; they’re living creatures that require care. Nor is chicken farming a quick fix. Chicks take five or six months to mature before they start producing eggs, so chick hoarders will be waiting until October for those omelets. Chickens also require a comfortable, safe home. They need a coop to shelter them from weather and predators. It should be dry, have good air circulation and, as they grow to adult size, provide at least two square feet per chicken. The coop should have perches, where chickens can happily hang out. Like all animals, chickens are prone to illness and injury. Would-be chicken farmers need to plan for how they will deal with their birds’ wellness needs. Ordinances vary by city. Before you start your avian enterprise, check with your town or county authorities. Many cities limit the number of backyard chickens, require certain types of shelter or restrict flocks to hens only. Some places entirely ban rearing poultry in your yard. If you don’t factor in quality of life , your chickens may not even produce eggs, Erasmus said. “Poultry, including chickens, sometimes have the reputation of being ‘bird-brained,’” she said.  “But anyone who has experience raising chickens will tell you they are intelligent and complex creatures who have the capacity to experience suffering and contentment.” + Purdue University Image via Pixabay

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Experts warn against panic-buying chicks

Earth911 Quiz #83: Five Sustainability Changes

April 2, 2020 by  
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What are five areas for quick changes in your carbon … The post Earth911 Quiz #83: Five Sustainability Changes appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth911 Quiz #83: Five Sustainability Changes

Coronavirus Reshapes Human Environmental Impacts, Showing That We Can, Too

March 24, 2020 by  
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Ardent recyclers and conscious shoppers have long been told by … The post Coronavirus Reshapes Human Environmental Impacts, Showing That We Can, Too appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Coronavirus Reshapes Human Environmental Impacts, Showing That We Can, Too

Infographic: Our Plastic Earth

February 13, 2020 by  
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The extent of plastic pollution has reached a level that … The post Infographic: Our Plastic Earth appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Infographic: Our Plastic Earth

EWG warns forever chemicals are contaminating US drinking water at levels far worse than expected

January 24, 2020 by  
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Toxic ‘forever chemicals’ known as PFAS, per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, persist in the environment , grossly tainting the drinking water of many United States cities, like Miami, New Orleans and Philadelphia. More specifically, findings by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) reveal that the a 2018 estimate of 110 million U.S. citizens being contaminated with PFAS is far below actual numbers. “It’s nearly impossible to avoid contaminated drinking water from these chemicals,” shared David Andrews, a senior scientist at EWG and co-author of the report. “Everyone’s really exposed to a toxic soup of these PFAS chemicals.” Related: Climate change-induced melting of mountain ice threatens global supply of freshwater PFAS are highly fluorinated chemicals that do not break down in the environment. The most infamous PFAS are those associated with Teflon and 3M’s Scotchgard. Much of the PFAS contamination is legacy pollution . In fact, both Teflon and Scotchgard were phased out years ago, but these harmful PFAS still persist in the environment — in soils and especially in water , such as the rainwater that supplies drinking water. Despite the original PFAS chemicals being taken off the market, they’ve been replaced by modern PFAS chemicals that might still be just as harmful, if not more so. These modern PFAS chemicals lurk in packaging, stain-resistant furnishings, water-repellent clothing and items, cosmetics and personal care products and firefighting foam. What’s worrisome, too, is that PFAS can accumulate in the human body, thus compromising health . Cancer, disease, endocrine disruption, reproductive issues, low birth weights and a host of other compromised health incidences are some of the consequences of drinking PFAS-tainted water. EWG is advocating for tougher regulations and laws to reduce PFAS chemicals in drinking water and consumer products to help reduce human exposure to these toxins . Some states are ramping up their efforts to reduce PFAS in the drinking water by banning PFAS-based food packaging or firefighting foam. But more work is still needed. + EWG Via The Guardian and Reuters Image via Arcaion

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EWG warns forever chemicals are contaminating US drinking water at levels far worse than expected

Ice rink alternatives and their environmental impact

January 3, 2020 by  
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Ice rinks are an important fixture of winter sports, whether for ice hockey, speed skating, curling, ice dancing or figure skating. But with growing concerns about global warming , water scarcity and our planet’s climate crisis , even the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) and the National Hockey League (NHL) have been considering the environmental issues related to coordinating ice sports events and ensuring energy consumption and rink-operating costs are feasible. As a result, there is now a movement towards utilizing synthetic ice on ice rinks. The first historical mention of a skating club’s founding was in 1642 in Edinburgh, Scotland. As skating clubs grew, they inspired inventors to create artificial ice surfaces, so the rink would not be at the whim of the weather. By 1843, a Punch magazine article featured the first artificial ice rink, “not of frozen water but of a slush of chemicals including hog’s lard and melted sulphur, which smelled abominably.” That was followed by the growing popularity of ice hockey from the 1880s onward, which increased the demand for more rink construction. When the 1890s rolled around, the rush to patent ice rink surfaces began and has not abated since. Related: 5 sustainable activities to make the most of a winter wonderland Rinks have long required both ice-making technical equipment and ice maintenance measures. Unfortunately, contemporary ice-making and maintenance technologies consume large amounts of energy and produce refrigerant gases that cause pollution , making them environmentally harmful. During the most recent determination of the NHL’s total carbon footprint , it was estimated to emit 530,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases , an amount rivaling the yearly emissions from 110,000 cars, says the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Which refrigerant gases are linked to present-day ice rinks? The main refrigerants associated with most ice-making equipment include chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), hydrocarbons, ammonia and carbon dioxide. CFCs and HCFCs are synthetic gases attributed to ozone layer destruction. HFCs heighten the greenhouse effect, while carbon dioxide similarly intensifies global warming. Plus, ammonia, when inhaled, aggressively causes irreversible respiratory damage. And hydrocarbons, like propane and isobutane, are highly combustible, often exacerbating smog formation. Hence, each of these gases adversely affects the environment.  Of course, as ice rink technology advances, many refrigerants are under a phase-out schedule, especially in Canada, due to the Montreal Protocol terms. Additionally, Canadian Consulting Engineer magazine reported: “Since 2010, no new HCFCs equipment have been manufactured in Canada or imported,” though extant ones are still in use today. Even with ammonia and carbon dioxide as the main refrigerants of choice for the majority of today’s ice rinks, they still have their attendant issues as well. For example, whereas ammonia may be a primary refrigerant, it is often utilized concurrently with brine to keep the rinks cold. The brine entails that this secondary fluid is high in salinity, having had salt added to boost its cooling properties. This highly saline secondary fluid, if leaked, can pose serious environmental damage. Meanwhile, despite “some rinks add[ing] ordinary salt to the water to keep them from freezing,” Wondergy documents, “most modern rinks now add ethylene glycol.” Ethylene glycol is a type of antifreeze, and it is highly toxic . Again, its leakage would be harmful to the environment, poisoning living organisms, their habitats and ecosystems . Other negative impacts of ice rinks include greenhouse gas emissions of carbon dioxide. For instance, CO2Meter reported that to shift away from coolants like HFCs and other fluorinated gases, some ice rinks have been using carbon dioxide-based refrigeration systems as their primary refrigerant. Carbon dioxide is a better alternative, though its use still contributes to global warming. Likewise, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has cataloged that other noxious emissions, such as high nitrogen dioxide levels and carbon monoxide, are being released by indoor ice rinks due to ice resurfacers, such as Zamboni rink vehicles. The EPA website states, “In enclosed ice arenas, a primary source of indoor air concerns is the release of combustion pollutants such as carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM) into the indoor air from the exhaust of fuel-fired ice resurfacers.” This assertion is supported by an Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) study , which shares that “nearly 40% of the rinks surveyed worldwide could be exceeding the World Health Organization’s 1-hour exposure guideline value for nitrogen dioxide in indoor air, with higher percentages of rinks exceeding this value in the US (55%) and Canada (46%). High nitrogen dioxide levels have been associated with respiratory problems such as severe coughs, chest pain and pulmonary edema.” Additionally, the same EDF study addresses carbon monoxide risks from ice rinks, citing that “High carbon monoxide levels can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea and impaired performance. At the levels of carbon monoxide typically found in indoor rinks, fast breathing from skating or hockey can produce adverse health effects.” The combination of ice-making, ice-maintenance and ice-resurfacing factors pose harmful health consequences for those who frequent ice arenas and rinks. For these reasons, ice arenas and rinks are turning to synthetic ice as an alternative. Xtraice, a company known for building and distributing synthetic ice for rinks, says that synthetic ice’s significant advantages are that it doesn’t use water and thus doesn’t waste energy on ice-making or ice-maintenance. Rather, it eliminates the cost of water and electricity that traditional ice rinks contend with. Besides, a synthetic ice rink can be used 24/7 without having to be re-surfaced in the same way real ice does. Xtraice explains further that synthetic ice rinks “are cleaner and do not require big noisy generators and best of all, they do not emit CO2 into the atmosphere.” What’s the catch? Synthetic ice is mainly composed of high-density polyethylene panels. Polyethylene is the most common plastic on the market. Critics of plastic ice worry about the environmental implications of the microplastics that could be released as skates erode the synthetic ice surface and create shavings and abrasions, which, when brushed or cleaned off of the rink, would likely be dumped in the refuse bin. From there, they could find their way into waterways and oceans , polluting the environment. Accordingly, ice rinks can be viewed as a sustainability conundrum, at least for the time being. Traditional ice rinks have noise, energy waste and pollution costs. And their alternative, the synthetic ice rink, while resolving those issues, still generate other environmental concerns surrounding microplastic and plastic detriments. Only time will tell how the ice rink will evolve to become more eco-friendly. Via Xtraice and New York Times Images via Jimmy Chan , Suzy Hazelwood , Pixabay , and Lina Kivaka

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Study shows how plant-based catering can greatly reduce events’ carbon footprints

December 5, 2019 by  
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A recent analysis published by the Center for Biological Diversity’s Catering to the Climate report finds that replacing meat with plant-based menu offerings at conferences, corporate gatherings and holiday parties can greatly reduce the impact of these events. Production of meat and dairy contributes to nearly 15 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, which play a drastic role in the planet’s current climate crisis . The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has repeatedly warned that reducing meat consumption and its accompanying emissions can help countries meet their climate goals. In the U.S. alone, half of all consumed water goes toward meat production. Did you know that 80 percent of agricultural land is set aside for raising animals and feed crops? As a result, there is a vital need to improve current agricultural, food and environmental practices. One such initiative is to address the catering sector. Related: IPCC landmark report warns about the state of the oceans, polar ice content and the climate crisis Last year, revenues for catering surpassed $11 billion, with industry growth in the past three years accelerating toward an annual 10 percent climb. By shifting the catering sector away from meat-dominant menus and toward more plant-based items, there’s likely to be a noticeable dent in accompanying emissions. “Avoiding meat-heavy menus at holiday parties and conferences can make a surprisingly big difference for our planet,” explained Jennifer Molidor, the Center for Biological Diversity’s senior food campaigner. “With Earth-friendly catering that focuses on low-carbon, plant-based choices, we can save wildlife habitats and avoid a lot of climate pollution.” Through plant-based catering, a 500-person event could minimize its carbon footprint by 10 tons of greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to the amount emitted by a car driving 22,000 miles. The move will also conserve 100,000 gallons of water from food processing and irrigation, save 5 acres of habitat from animal agriculture and prevent 17 tons of manure pollution . “Public demand for plant-based, low-carbon menus is growing quickly,” Molidor said. “Even small changes in purchasing, like replacing dairy with plant-based milks and cheeses, can bring substantial benefits to suppliers and their clients. When the event and catering industry serves plant-based menus, it’s an environmental and culinary success.” + Center for Biological Diversity Image via Pixabay

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Study shows how plant-based catering can greatly reduce events’ carbon footprints

Architects design giant air purifying towers to fight Delhis air pollution

November 26, 2019 by  
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According to WHO, air quality in India’s capital of Delhi is among the worst in the world and is the fifth leading cause of death in India. In a bid to fight this silent killer, Indian practice Studio Symbiosis Architects has taken on a pro-bono project to design A?ra, a proposal for a system of air purifiers to clean the city air for the benefit of all residents in Delhi. Developed using the principles of aerodynamics, the A?ra air purifiers rely on a curved shape and air pressure differentials to intake polluted air and produce cool, clean air. Delhi has made headlines year after year for the thick, suffocating smog that has blanketed the city and neighboring areas. With the levels of PM 2.5 spiking to dangerous highs, Studio Symbiosis Architects sought a solution that could be enjoyed by all and not just those able to afford home air purifiers. Related: Pollution Pods let visitors taste pollution from around the world At the heart of the architects’ proposal is A?ra, a series of giant, air purifying towers topped with green planters with drip irrigation. Each tower would have two main chambers: one to increase the relative velocity of the air and the other for purifying the polluted air before blowing it out at high speeds and at lower temperatures to create a pressure difference that then pushes warm, polluted air back toward the tower. The architects estimate that an 18-meter-tall A?ra tower could clean 32 million cubic meters of air every day and have the capacity to clean 1.3 million cubic meters of air per hour. The A?ra towers represent only the first part of the architects’ proposal. The architects’ implementation plan would begin with installing a ring of 60-meter-tall A?ra towers around the city border to stop the flow of external pollution. Smaller, 18-meter-tall A?ra towers with a range of 1 square kilometer would then be installed in select “hot spots” along a grid to ensure clean air within the city. The air purification system would be supplemented with “A?ra velocity” gadgets that can be attached to the tops of cars as well as a network of “A?ra Falcon” drones that would move around the city and monitor air pollution levels. The systems collectively would be called the “A?ra Hive.” + Studio Symbiosis Architects Images via Studio Symbiosis Architects

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Architects design giant air purifying towers to fight Delhis air pollution

Research finds heart attacks and strokes surge on high pollution days in England

October 25, 2019 by  
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A new study published by King’s College London (KCL) reports that elevated levels of air pollution contribute to increased spikes in cardiac arrests, stroke admissions and asthma hospitalizations. The sobering news has been described as a health emergency, prompting calls for the British government to commit to more enforceable sustainability targets and improved air quality standards. The research team surveyed data across nine cities: London, Birmingham, Bristol, Derby, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Oxford and Southampton. London had the largest uptick of health incidents because it experienced more high pollution days. For the English capital city, an additional 124 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests, 231 stroke admissions and 193 asthma hospitalizations occurred on days registering higher pollution levels. The collated data clearly revealed a cause-and-effect correlation. Thus, increased air pollution from wind direction and wind strength conclusively affected people’s health in just a short period of time while similarly having implications on life expectancy. Related: For 2019, the 10 worst cities for air quality are in California and Arizona Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, said, “London’s lethal air is a public health crisis — it leads to thousands of premature deaths in the capital every year, as well as stunting the development of young lungs and increasing cases of respiratory illness.” The research results were published ahead of the British National Clean Air Summit , which was hosted by UK100 , a British network of local government leaders. In response to the study findings, the British National Health Service (NHS) tweeted that almost a third of preventable deaths in England “are due to non-communicable diseases specifically attributed to air pollution .” Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS, further explained, “Since these avoidable deaths are happening now — not in 2025 or 2050 — together we need to act now. For the NHS, that is going to mean further comprehensive action building on the reduction of our carbon footprint of one-fifth in the past decade. So our NHS energy use, supply chain, building adaptations and our transport will all need to change substantially.” + King’s College London Via EcoWatch Image via Matt Buck

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